Friday, June 12, 2009

Empty DC School Demolished for Park

Two days after DC’s Office of Property Management (OPM) publicly announced their goal of moving city agencies out of leased space and into shuttered public schools, the city has decided to tear one down instead. According to documentation from District’s Office of Historic Preservation, OPM has received approval to demolish Gage-Eckington Elementary in LeDroit Park, following concerns about a lack of parking from a potential government tenant.

The 86,500 square foot building, which sits vacant at 2025 3rd Street, NW, had initially been considered as a new headquarters for the DC Department of Environment, which was quick to express its trepidation about the dearth of parking in the area. The school was definitively passed over once city officials balked at the reported $18 million worth of renovations and repairs needed to retrofit the facility (as presented here by frequent DCmud talkbacker, IMGoph, on his own Bloomingdale-centric site). So, instead of parking, the DC government has decided to go with a park.

In lieu of an agency relocation, Gage-Eckington will be razed to make way for a new public park designed by Lee + Papa and Associates. A final development scheme for the recreational area was approved at a meeting of the LeDroit Park Civic Association (LPCA) on May 26th and is set to include a dog park, a children’s garden, an environmental learning center and incorporate the already existing community garden at 3rd and V Streets, NW that adjoins the site. According to the LPCA, “Inside demolition of [the school] is scheduled to start on or about June 1. Exterior demo is expected to begin by August 1. Construction of the park is slated to begin on or about October 15.”

The LPCA had actively lobbied for the project via their "Put the Park Back in LeDroit Park" community campaign, which began shortly before Gage-Eckington Elementary closed its doors at the end of 2007-8 school year. It was a move expected to save DC Public Schools some $659,000 in “fixed costs” per year, but at the time, DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee and Deputy Mayor for Education Victor Reinoso said specifically of Gage-Eckington:

We intend to use buildings for the benefit of our city…[and it] could be used to house an early childhood or adult education program, a student and family health center, or another city agency…The Mayor has no plans to sell the property or allow it to fall into disrepair or unmonitored use.

Not to be confused with LeDroit Park’s other Gage school, the N.P Gage School at 2035 2nd Street, NW that was replaced by Gage-Eckington (only to sit unoccupied for 25 years), and which was transformed into the Parker Flats at Gage School by Urban Realty Advisors and Bonstra Haresign Architects in 2005.


IMGoph on Jun 12, 2009, 7:06:00 PM said...

talkbacker, eh? guess that's another thing to add to the resume... :)

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